Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales have all relaxed COVID-19 restrictions affecting boating over the past fortnight.

The BIA team has worked steadily over many weeks to promote boating to all levels of government as a low risk activity that can fit within the evolving social distancing criteria whilst delivering much needed economic and social benefits. That work will continue until we arrive at the ‘new normal’ for boating Australia-wide.

The BIA team’s position is that recreational boating presents a unique opportunity to provide a sense of freedom, health and wellbeing to a significant proportion of the community at very low risk.

Boating is, in normal times, a way of life for many Australian families and perhaps more than ever before we need consider how to phase in low-risk activities such as boating where individuals, household units and families in small groups can get out in the fresh open air and on the water for the chance to exercise their mental and physical wellbeing while maintaining social distancing.

A typical family recreational boating experience is safe and can be conducted safely and appropriately in accordance with the required social distancing and disease control criteria. This could range from a single person on a small paddle or sail craft through to a household family unit on a motor cruiser or houseboat.

With more than 85 per cent of the population living within 50km of the coast, it is estimated that more than 20 per cent of all Australians engage in some form of boating annually. The vast majority of this activity takes place in craft owned by people from family units enjoying the outdoors in runabouts and small sail or paddle craft. Being on the water, by definition, creates isolation which is a far safer activity right now than waiting in a line at a busy supermarket for food or going for a walk by a crowded waterfront in any built-up area.

Queensland will, from 2 May, enable households to travel 50km from home for recreational boating. They have also added PWC to the permitted use; and also included waterskiing, wakeboarding to the existing paddle and sail craft for exercise.

Western Australia has cautiously relaxed the number for indoor and outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, while practising social distancing. Boating is not banned in WA and boat ramps remain open.

New South Wales relaxed its restrictions to include PWC for transportation as well as fishing, clarified the use for waterskiing and wakeboarding, and also made it clear that vessels could be towed or driven for maintenance and service.

The BIA will continue to support governments in disease control measures and that includes the need for exemplary workplace hygiene measures that are an important part of the recovery.

Prime Minister Morrison said on the weekend that any easing of restrictions required workplaces to demonstrate social distancing and “exemplary hygiene” measures to support the transition process towards recovery.

He said a new set of safe workplace principles agreed to by the national cabinet were in place to help business and employees manage risks and prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak.

The situation continues to evolve and change, so please keep an eye on the BIA COVID-19 webpage for updates at bia.org.au/community/covid-19